Southwestern Montana is not about the splendor of national parks, but more about ghost towns from days gone by since the days of mining at the end of the 1800s. These miners were more interested in extracting resources from below the earth than building structures to withstand time; However, the remains remain to this day, which gives us a look back in time to the miner's dreams of hitting him rich or to the girl's hope of a salon for better days. Now other buildings and mines in these cities tell a story and hold a place in Montana's history.
The ghost town of Pomegranate in the Garnet mountain range is the most intact ghost town where the 1860 gold quartz was discovered in 1860. Being in such a remote location, the miners faced many challenges without using heavy equipment. Even getting there today, using the route the miners took, can be on the challenging side, as the road to Cave Gulch is a steep, one-lane, rough dirt road up the side of the mountain with switches; However, the beautiful nature of the valley below makes driving useful.
In 1862, gold was discovered at Grasshopper Creek; as a result, the city of Banak was founded. As word spread miners and businessmen flock to the city's site hoping to hit it rich. Due to growth and sudden wealth, Bank was declared the first territorial capital of Montana in 1864; However, a little later the capital was relocated to Virginia City. From 1860 to 1930, Banak thrived as a mining town, by 1950 most people had left, leaving Banak a ghost town with over 60 structures from the late 1800s to see future generations of what gold miners were looking for. life was like
The deepest pride and affection for Virginia City, the most colorful pioneer mining camp with the dramatic tales of the early days that ever existed, is shared throughout Montana. The area was so rich in gold that small communities appeared everywhere, with Virginia City and Nevada City being the major trading centers. For ten years from 1865 to 1875, the city of Virginia was declared the territorial capital of Montana, but like most things, gold was exhausted, leaving enough to sustain housing and business; as a result, the city froze in time like an old western Victorian city. Today, Virginia City and the surrounding area are rich in natural beauty, recreation and history.
The story of Montana is not all about fame and fortune, a form of justice had to be upheld for groups of criminals who wandered early in Montana, leaving a trail of destruction. On July 2, 1871, the sturdy iron sticks closed for the first time at the Montana Territorial Prison at Deer Lodge, now the Old Prison Museum shows a chilling look at what life behind bars is like, guarded by the law of justice. Behind the enclosed stone towers and iron gates is a frightening cell block built by prisoners using 1.2 million self-made bricks. Walking the islands in the cell block with sliding cells and a black box used for maximum security will send shivers down the spine.
After the prison museum, take a stroll down the memory lane through the Automobile Museum, which houses over 160 classic cars. One will see cars from the late 1800's with an incredible eight horsepower to muscle since 1970, with millions of miles of history.